Having an animal around brings something to your life, a happiness that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves in situations where we can’t have a pet. Or we can’t have a big pet due to space, ease or other circumstances. Whatever your reason for wanting a small affectionate pet, I’ve created a list of the best small pets for cuddling.
So what constitutes a small cuddly pet? Well, cuteness and cuddle-ability (is that a word?) is in the eye of the beholder. For that reason we’ve included some non-conventional cuddly pets into this article and tossed a few reptiles into the mix.
Best small pets for cuddling
Below I will go over a list of multiple different small animals you can have as pets, a little about them, and why they might be a perfect pet for you.
Okay, understandably or maybe not so understandably, rats get a bad reputation, and you might be thinking, rats? Yes, rats. Rats are especially sweet creatures and very social. If you decide on a rat, make it two. Rats are highly intelligent. A rat can learn tricks, be potty trained, learn its name, and are extremely cuddling. Males are more cuddly than females. Females have more of a playful nature.
Rats, during studies, have shown compassion and care towards others. They are very similar to humans. They are very clean and spend a good portion of their time keeping themselves that way. If all that wasn’t enough, these charming little creatures even laugh.
Rats are relatively low maintenance and low cost. They are a bit more difficult, though, than, say, a hamster. Rats live for 2-4 years. They need 2cubic feet of space per rat or larger. They sell commercial rat food, but you should supplement and give them daily fruits, veggies sources of protein. Rats can eat a lot of what humans can, so dishing them up a plate of safe and unseasoned food from your meals will make them happy and is pretty simple to do. They do need lots of love and cuddles!
Rabbits make wonderful pets! Breeds of rabbits, like the Holland Lop and lion heads, are favorites among rabbit owners. But there are many breeds to choose from, most being very sweet. Rabbits have a broad range of personality traits that depend on your rabbit. They can be shy, curious, playful. Most rabbits enjoy cuddles and bond with their humans well.
Rabbits have a relatively long life span, living upwards of 10yrs or longer. Rabbits should have a cage 4-5x its body size. Rabbits need water, pellets, hay, fresh fruits, and veggies daily. They should have soft flooring, toys and with lots of love, they’ll make a great companion.
3. Guinea pigs
Guinea pigs have vibrant and unique personalities, no two being alike, but almost all are super sweet, and they enjoy and bond well with humans. Guinea pigs are low-maintenance and have long life spans.
Guinea pigs come in lots of different looks, colors, and hair length variations. A guinea pig or “pocket hippo” also makes lots of various noises to let you know how they are feeling. Few people know this, but guinea pigs will purr like a cat when happy and have even been known to get excited and squeal when greeting their owners.
4. Bearded Dragons
Bearded Dragons are not your typical cuddly pet, but Bearded dragons are surprisingly affectionate, being ranked as one of the most affectionate reptiles.
Bearded dragons will seek out and snuggle with their humans. Dragons have a very docile temperament and are happy to hang out with their humans. You can buy leashes and take these little critters with you even when you go out.
Beardies are a higher-maintenance pet and are more expensive to care for. They require UVB and heat fixtures and bulbs. They are insectivores and need a live diet, usually an assortment of insects. They also need calcium to prevent MBD (metabolic bone disease), along with other enclosure decorations and necessities. These magnificent reptiles might take a bit more to care for, but they are worth it.
Hamsters are sweet little animals. They are easy to care for and not very expensive. Hamsters can entertain themselves for long periods with the right cage accessories and plenty of toys.
The most common hamster you will find in pet shops is the Syrian hamster, also known as a fancy hamster. They have a longer lifespan than other hamsters living between 2-4 years. Hamsters are nocturnal, so if this doesn’t fit your schedule or you’re a light sleeper, they might not be the best fit for you, but they can make wonderful little cuddle companions when given the proper amount of love and time.
Dogs are named “man’s best friend” for a reason. They can cuddle and play for hours. Sometimes that might feel like the only thing they want to do. They relish human companionship as much as we love theirs, if not more.
Small dogs take up less room, have a longer lifespan than larger breeds, are very intelligent, and love to cuddle as much as any dog. Below is a list of small dog breeds that make excellent pets.
- Yorkshire terrier
- Miniature poodles
- Miniature schnauzers
- Cavalier King Charles spaniels
- Shih Tzu
Of course, there are all these and more. All dogs can have such unique and remarkable personalities and demeanors it can be hard to choose, but that’s half the fun.
Cats get a reputation for being loners but don’t let them fool you. They love attention and cuddles too! Cats are relatively easy to care for and can manage just fine on their own but enjoy your company when you are around.
Cats make fun and exciting pets and work great for those who have a little less time to spend giving attention. Cats are quite content to plop down on your lap and don’t require hours of playtime. Cats are smaller, and there are plenty of excellent and attractive breeds to choose from, each offering a fun companion for years.
For the right type of person, cats make some of the best small pets for cuddling there are!
8. Corn Snakes
I know, I know. Snakes! They are not what you typically think of when you think…cuddly. Well, who wants to be typical anyway?
Corn snakes make great pets. They’re easy to care for, very hardy, and relatively cheap to provide for. All this makes them perfect for beginners. Corn snakes need a small enclosure to start with, and when adults, they should be able to stretch out the length of two sides of their tank. They eat one mouse or rat a week as adults or every 7-10 days. They require regular spot cleanings.
Corn snakes don’t need a lot of attention, but when you do handle your Corn snake, you’ll notice they are very curious, calm, and docile. They tolerate humans better than almost any other snake. Corn snakes are a very different form of small and cuddly, but they do find a way into your heart.
You can’t have a “Best small animals for cuddling” list and not include Chinchillas. Chinchillas have awed us for years with their undeniable cuteness.
They are unique in a lot of different ways, especially in care. Chinchillas require a minimum of 2x2x4ft. They do need significantly more space than other rodents. They are more active at dusk and dawn, so they don’t enjoy being disturbed during the day. Chinchillas do not take baths the way we know them, they take dust baths. You can find chinchilla dust at any local pet shop. Chinchillas can live upwards of 18-22 years, so this is important to keep in mind when buying a chinchilla.
Chinchillas can bond with humans and be quite affectionate, but it will take time and patience. If you are up for it they can make an enjoyable companion.
10. Birds (Cockatoos)
Some birds like the Cockatoos or Budgies, make excellent pets for those seeking out a cuddly friend. Cockatoos are one of the most affectionate birds and are known for being very sweet.
Have you ever seen a bird video on youtube? You’ve probably seen a cockatoo. They are energetic and have BIG personalities, making them loved by many. A cockatoo does need a very devoted owner, who can spend time training and caring for them the way they need, but the devotion they will show in return is unparalleled.
Cockatoos are a bit more involved, and you should research them thoroughly before buying. They need a lot of attention, but just as much independent time. Cockatoos have become destructive because of their dependency on their human(s) for attention. That’s how much they can grow to love you! So, it is crucial to know before going forward.
11. Ball Python
Ball pythons, unlike corns, make the list because they are calm, docile, show their own form of affection but are not as curious as corns. They are content to just hang out with you, whereas corn snakes are usually always moving and on the go. Ball python owners joke their snakes are like pet rocks because they are so chill.
Ball pythons are a bit harder to care for. They require temperatures between 77- 85 and a basking spot of 87-92. Ball pythons also require higher humidity, around 60 percent, and during shedding, 80 percent. They might be a little harder to care for, but they are worth it. Ball pythons really are beautiful and make wonderful pets.
12. Blue Tongue Skink
Another Lizard that really seems to enjoy human companionship is the Blue Tongue Skink, but they’re not alone. We love them too.
The Blue Tongue Skinks have a unique appearance. They are calm and well-tempered, easier than a lot of other reptiles to care for. They can and do reach lengths of 25inch, so they aren’t as small. It does depend on the species you decide to get. These creatures are right up there with Bearded Dragons as being among the friendliest lizards. If you choose to get a Blue Tongue Skink, you will not be disappointed.
Ferrets are extraordinary creatures who are very mischievous and playful. They will have you cracking up and wondering where your slippers are! Ferrets are characters in every sense. If you have the time for these silly, fun-loving animals you will have very few dull moments ahead of you.
Ferrets require chew toys because they do enjoy chewing, and you don’t want them wreaking havoc on your furniture. They eat kibble and can be given meat occasionally. They are carnivorous. They should live in large cages, with more than enough room to keep them entertained. They will steal your stuff!
The name “ferret” is from the Latin word “furittus” meaning “little thief.” This name fits them well because they love to take stuff they like and hide it, usually in one giant stash pile. Ferrets are cute and quirky, and if you have the time, excellent companions.